An Update on the Church Plan Litigation

Much has happened in the Church Plan litigation since our first post about it and our last post. At this point, motions to dismiss by the different defendants have been fully briefed in four cases and oral arguments have been held in 2 of those. None have yet been ruled on, however, in the Medina case as explained below, the court turned the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment, and discovery has begun.

Here is a case by case update of the five cases. (click the names of each case to go to that case’s page to download all relevant filings)

Overall v. Ascension Health

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on June 28, 2013. Since then, Plaintiffs have responded and Defendants have replied.
On September 16, 2013, the United States of America intervened in the case because of the constitutional questions raised by the Plaintiffs. At this stage, they are declining to file any briefing. On November 18, 2013, a hearing was held and the Motion to Dismiss was taken under advisement.

Two notes of interest. First, on October 9, 2013, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an Amicus Brief in support of Defendants. The brief was co-authored by Eugene Volokh of UCLA School of Law along with the help of his students in the UCLA First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic. He wrote about the brief on his blog.

Second, in support of their position, the Plaintiffs filed an NYU Law Review article written by David Pratt that does an excellent job of summarizing the legal issues in these cases. I highly recommend you read it. (Warning: the file size is quite large)

Chavies v. Catholic Health East

As we previously wrote about, the Defendants here filed a Motion to Dismiss on June 17, 2013. Plaintiffs responded, Defendants replied, and Plaintiffs were given permission to file a sur-reply.

On September 30, 2013, the United States of America intervened.

A hearing for the Motion to Dismiss has yet to happen.

Medina v. Catholic Health Initiatives

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on July 30, 2013 but just 6 days later sua sponte, the Court converted the motion to a Motion for Summary Judgment based upon the Court’s jurisdictional issues being intertwined with the merits of the case. The simple outcome is that before any issues of law or fact can be decided by the Court, the Plaintiffs are entitled to take discovery (i.e. request documents and take depositions).

On August 29, 2013, the Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification.

On September 30, 2013, the Unites States of America intervened.

On October 7, 2013, the Defendants answered Plaintiffs’ complaint.

Rollins v. Dignity Health

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on June 17, 2013. Plaintiffs responded and Defendants replied. On November 4, 2013, the Court heard oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss and took it under advisement.

On October 31, 2013, the United States of America intervened.

Kaplan v. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on August 12, 2013. The Plaintiffs responded and the Defendants replied. The Court has yet to hear oral arguments.

On August 14, 2013, the IRS granted the Saint Peter’s pension plan church plan status. Here is Saint Peter’s IRS ruling edited to fill in the relevant names from the Pension Rights Center. On September 19, 2013, the Pension Rights Center sent a letter to the pension plan’s participants addressing the IRS ruling.

On November 14, 2013, the United States of America intervened.

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